One of the beliefs at Lux + Vita is that a system needs to work for you and not me. The idea behind that is that if I ever stopped being a part of your business, you need to know how the system works and be able to continue using it without me. Which means you need to take time to understand how it works even if you won’t be using it but your team will.
To boil it all down, there are 3 reasons you need processes AND documentation for them:
- It keeps your client informed, which leads to fewer questions and concerns from them, and helps them to trust you and understand and appreciate your value more
- So that you can outsource/hire
- For your own sanity
01. You need processes so your clients know what’s going on and what comes next
One of the worst things that I ran into when I was designing websites was getting an email from a client asking what’s next, when is something due, or if they need to do something to keep the project moving.
Having a set process for how you do something will show your clients that you value their time and the investment. It will also elevate their experience and show just why you are the expert.
Whether you add your client to a project management tool like Asana or if you keep everything in email, you need to have somewhere internally that shows what comes next. And then you need to be proactive in letting your clients know the timeline and expectations.
I have clients who use both of those methods, and from what I’ve seen there are 2 ways you can handle projects with clients.
Add your client to your project management tool
If your clients tend to be more tech savvy or you really don’t like email as a way to communicate with clients, I highly recommend setting up a project in Asana that is for you and the client. By doing this you’re allowing the client to visually see what is actually happening in the project, what they need to do, and what you’re doing each day or week.
In addition to having this, I personally send weekly updates on Monday in Asana to the client to give them a quick overview of the week, as well as remind them of anything we’re missing or need them to take action on.
Using Asana with clients has streamlined communication and allowed the client, me (the project manager) and my client (the designer) to be all on the same page during the whole project because all of us can see what everyone is doing at all times.
As a side note, we do have an internal project for just me and my client (the designer) so we can have side conversations and handle internal tasks like onboarding and offboarding that the client doesn’t need to have access to.
New to Asana? Check out this 101 post on Asana and how it works.
Keep your project management tool for internal use but send the client weekly updates
If you and your clients prefer email, then I recommend having a project in Asana setup just for you and any team members working on that project. This will allow you and the team to have open and clear communication about what’s happening as well as troubleshoot any issue you run into during the process.
For this type of project my client (the designer) has several tasks in Asana that remind them on specific days to email the client with certain updates. I don’t often email the client during the project in this case, just at the beginning as we prepare to start the project.
02. You need processes so you can effectively outsource or hire team members
Imagine if you were hired to do a job but the people who hired you had no information about how to get started, what you need to do to get your job done. Imagine how frustrating that’d be. That’s essentially what you’re doing to your team if you don’t have your processes or steps for how to do something.
The easiest way to prepare to outsource or hire is to start with where you are right now. What project are you working on right now? As you go through the project, write down the general process and record any tutorials along the way. For recording videos, I recommend using Loom. It’s a free tool you can use to record your screen and yourself and link to without needing to save them to your own computer.
By doing this you’ll not only serve your team members well but you’ll also save your sanity in the long run because you won’t need to constantly be answering questions about what to do next or how to do something.
You don’t need to have every last little minute detail written down, but you do need to have enough in there to guide whoever is completing the task through it.
03. You need processes for your own sanity
“We just got a new client for XYZ service. It’s been a while since we had one of those—do you remember what we do from here?”
This is literally taken from a conversation I recently had with a client. They then went on to give a loose outline of what they vaguely remember needing to happen.
“Wow it’s been a minute since we did that service—good thing we have a workflow setup to walk through that process. Once I turn on the workflow I’ll be sent the next steps to onboard the client so we’re all good!”
I can’t tell you how many times the workflows and systems we have setup in Dubsado and Asana have saved our 🍑🍑🍑.
I’m not gonna lie, setting up these systems took a lot of time and effort up front but in the long run as you can see, were 110% worth the effort.
You need to have processes not just written down, and set up in a way that makes it easy for you to know what to do first and what comes next. Especially when it’s for something you don’t do often.
Wrapping it up
Alright, so to recap—there are 3 reasons why you need to have a documented process:
- Keep your client informed, which leads to fewer questions and concerns from them, and helps them to trust you and understand and appreciate your value more.
- So that you can outsource/hire
- For your own sanity
So start right now and look at everything that you’re working on—start with where you are and write down and record what you do. As you work on more projects you’ll be able to fine-tune this process until it’s a well-oiled machine. It doesn’t mean that you need to automate everything or have a strict schedule. Having a process means having a consistent plan for how you’ll execute something.